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Geriatric Psychiatry Medical Director speaks at Hawaii convention

June 27, 2011

For immediate release
Contact:  Gerry Ewing / 503-681-1654

Most people go to Hawaii for sun, surf and the sights. Maureen C. Nash, MS, MD, FAPA, traveled to the island paradise earlier this month for a little bit of sun sandwiched around a presentation to the largest gathering of psychiatrists in the world.

Dr. Nash, an attending psychiatrist and Medical Director of the Tuality Center for Geriatric Psychiatry in Forest Grove, spoke on treating dementia related behavior disturbance to the 164th annual American Psychiatry Association convention in May in Honolulu. The event attracted doctors from across the United States, Asia and Europe, including New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Germany.

Dr. Nash and Sarah Foidel, the lead occupational therapist at the Center for Geriatric Psychiatry, presented an invited course at the APA convention. This is a 4-hour in-depth seminar presented by recognized experts in the field. “Getting an invited course is quite an honor, especially this year when the number of courses approved had to be limited due to constraints” she said. “It was well attended and the audience generated many questions about this challenging topic. Many people stayed for an extra hour to continue to ask questions and discuss the issue.”

The behavior disturbances Nash and Foidel discussed included delusions and paranoia, depression, anxiety, apathy and aggression. These are all quality of life issues for the patient, family members and care givers of people with dementia. The message they delivered is that there are treatment options, including both behavioral interventions and a number of effective medications that can improve quality of life.

Statistics provided by Dr. Nash drive home the importance of the presentation in Honolulu. Dementia is the sixth leading cause of death and Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common type of dementia. The biggest risk factor for most cases of Alzheimer’s is age. Roughly 1 in 100 people who are 65 have Alzheimer’s, 1 in 20 people aged 70 have Alzheimer’s, 1 in 10 people aged 75 have Alzheimer’s, 1 in 5 people aged 80 have Alzheimer’s and nearly half of those aged 85 or older have Alzheimer’s. The baby boomers began to turn 65 this year so the leading edge of a surge of people with Alzheimer’s Type Dementia is approaching. Of those who develop dementia, between 70   and 90 percent will develop behavioral disturbances.

Nash’s work at the Tuality Center for Geriatric Psychiatry in Forest Grove gives her a great deal of experience understanding and treating the various forms of behavior disturbance seen in dementia. The Forest Grove facility has an excellent reputation, and is the only acute care geriatric psychiatry hospital unit in Oregon and southwest Washington. That status means the facility receives a number of referrals involving challenging patients from all parts of Oregon and beyond.

Dr. Nash says she needs to share credit for the Hawaii presentation with the late Dr. Scott Armstrong, a fellow psychiatrist and the previous Co-Medical Director with her at Forest Grove. It was originally his idea to prepare and submit the course.  He died only three days before the presentation was due at the American Psychiatry Association.